In TNT’s closeout game in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals, the KaTropa got the performance they’d been expecting from their court general, Jayson Castro.
Castro, considered in FIBA play as ‘The Best Point Guard in Asia’, displayed the vintage form that earned him that distinction as he fired away for 38 points against the Barangay Ginebra defense.
After struggling through the first three games of the best-of-five series, Castro unleashed his highest scoring total since tallying his career-high of 42 points in last season’s Governors’ Cup. Castro’s 38 was third-highest scoring total of his PBA career.
“Kung mapapansin niyo yung first three games ko sobrang tight ng defense nila, halos lahat ng schemes meron sila sa akin,” said Castro.
“Going Game 4, parang yung mindset ko is to be aggressive na lang even though nag-i-struggle ako sa shots ko. Sinabi ko na lang sa sarili ko this is a do-or-die game. Kapag umabot ng Game 5, lalo kami ma-da-down. We need to win.”
‘The Blur’ didn’t even need to make any technical or strategic adjustments in Game 4, instead he remained aggressive all game long while acting as a leader on the floor.
“Yung mga wide-open shots ko na dati kong itinitira kailangan ko lang itira with confidence. At the same time kapag tina-trap nila ako, that’s the time na na-hi-hit ko yung mga teammates ko. Nung first three games ko, mas hinahanap ko mga teammates ko. In this game, kailangan mas maging aggressive,” Castro shared.
“Then syempre, kailangang maging example sa mga young guys. Kasi nga as one of the veterans kailangan kong dumipensa at huma-hustle.”
TNT coach Nash Racela, who will be coaching in his first-ever PBA Finals, believes that Castro has been playing well all series but simply didn’t get enough credit for his play in the previous games due to his modest stat-lines.
“When Jayson was limited to a single-digits, people talk about him not being effective,” Racela said. “But that’s Jayson. He finds ways to contribute. I was telling somebody that when you see Jayson’s number in terms of points go down, it just means his assists would go up, his rebounds would go up.”
“That speaks of Jayson. I was telling you after Game 1, Jayson would explode. He didn’t get that in Games 2 and 3, but today, he did. Before the game, we told him that he has to be aggressive at least for us to have a chance against Ginebra,” the coach added.
And while Castro was brilliant all game long, he did receive some help in the form of fellow backcourt player RR Garcia, who showed some stellar play as well.
Garcia, acquired in a trade earlier this conference from the San Miguel Beermen, contributed 16 points in the game, many of them coming while Castro enjoyed a breather on the bench.
But the two guards also showed an ability to play together in the final stretch of the game, keeping Ginebra at bay as they sealed the victory.
“I think Jayson and RR are both learning to play with each other – whether together on the court or the other guy sitting down,” Racela said.
“But ang maganda, they complement each other. You saw that today, it really helped us.”